Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Slow down in postings doesn't equal slow down in hiring

Today's post is brought to you courtesy of @billjessee_sphr.  Bill recently brought up the idea that many job seekers make the mistake of thinking that summer means less hiring.  As a result, many slack off on their job search activities.  And you know what-he's totally right!  From many of the job seekers I work with, they report to me that job postings have declined a bit this month.  Obviously we know that job growth has stalled a bit based on unemployment numbers.  However, I want you to really understand something that the big job boards don't want you to hear........

Not all companies post their jobs on Monster, Careerbuilder, Dice, etc.  So, if your primary vehicle to search for a job is the job boards, you are only hitting 40-70% (depending on who you ask) of the potential jobs.  And couple this with a slow down in job postings, that could be a lot of opportunity wasted.

So, whether the perceived decline in postings is because companies are hiring less or because more companies are taking a different route to hire, who knows.  Bottom line is this...don't let summer lull you into thinking that no one is hiring.  And please don't think you can slow down your search activity if you want to be in a new job.  Remember those BLS statistics-it's taking the average seeker around 36 weeks of searching.  If you are only spending 4 hours a week on your search, it may take you longer.  Definitely make sure that you are keeping an eye on online postings, but also spend some time developing a strategy to network more in person and online.  Find more recruiters.  Do more to strengthen your skill set.  And you never know-you just might be able to create your own opportunity.  Good luck and happy hunting!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Does your web presence make you look like a criminal? LinkedIn picture advice

I've been looking at the picture from one of my LI connections all week.  While I have not met her in person, I have "met" her online and found her to be very pleasant.  However, her picture on LI is incredibly formal and stoic-completely unrepresentative of what I have come to know as "the real her."  And it makes me wonder...at what point did we begin to think that we need to look serious to look seriously good?

I could blah blah blah your proverbial ear off as to the psychology of the LI picture.  Allow me instead to be uncharacteristically brief instead: Please smile!  It makes you appear approachable, which means that people will be more likely to approach you.  The picture on LI doesn't have to be an ultra formal representation of you.  However, you do need to take some thought as to what picture you have up there.  Here are some other basics for getting a good pic:

1) Make it recent.  While we would all like to believe we look the same now as when we graduated HS, the reality is that we don't.  Keep it to a picture taken at least within the last 5-10 years if not the last 3. 

2) Make it friendly.  Smile, laugh, exude warmth.  Great that you think that mug shot of you made your nose look smaller, but no one wants to do business with someone who looks mean.  Unless you are trying to get a job as an enforcer for the mob.  Then by all means, look mean.  However, if you want to look friendly, then check out what one of my IMPACT Group colleagues posted as her picture.  Doesn't this pic scream talk to me?  

3) Make it appropriate.  I'll never forget the time I saw that one of my recruiter contacts on LI had uploaded a naked picture of herself (on purpose)..while I hope not to have a repeat of that experience, I still see plenty of pictures of people's dogs, trees, their children, etc.  Remember-LI is not Facebook.  Treat your picture accordingly.

Looking for more good tips, including how to size appropriately?  Check out this series of excellent blog posts from Edenchanges: http://edenchanges.wordpress.com/category/linkedin-articles/

Bottom line-Like it or not, your picture on LI matters.  Opting to skip a picture is a mistake because for all of our technology, LI is still used by humans who are drawn to people that they find appealing.  Don't worry so much about looking too old, fat, skinny, young, white, black, latino, asian, bald, hairy, or jerseylicious.  Just smile!  Good luck and happy hunting!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Relo on the go-quick tips for making a home

As part of my coaching portfolio, I get to work with a number of people (and families) who are making a move across the state, across the US, or across the world to follow work.  While many of these moves are because a spouse is relocating with the company she or he already knows, there are times where people are moving into a completely new area with a completely new job for a completely new company.  And that can be a bit overwhelming.  Especially for those of you who are moving on your own without the support of a transition company.  However, here are a couple of quick suggestions that you can take on to help make your transition a positive one: 

Eat like a local: For interesting restaurants, check out sites like Chowhound and Urban Spoon.  The user created reviews/comments on sites like these can help take you and your family from eating at the equivalent of South of the Border to eating like a true local.

Find local parks:  While a quick google search isn't going to give you deep information about your local park system, chances are it will give you some places to start in developing a repertoire of local parks that you can frequent when time and weather permits.

Check out the local Chamber: Many local Chambers of Commerce are affiliated with if not directly tied to Convention/Visitors Bureaus making these a resources together a great place for newcomers to learn what's going on in the community.  The US Chamber has a list of all local chambers searchable by area, but you can also typically get this info from your real estate agent, mortgage banker (if local), and/or local library.

Bottom line-While a relocation like this can be a big event for an individual or family, it's often the little things like these that will help your new house become your new home.  Good luck and happy unpacking!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Are we really friends?

I wrote a big ranty blog this morning after receiving the 10th LI connection request of the week from someone who indicated we are friends.  I decided to back off most of my rhetoric to say instead:  Please stop sending me connection requests on LinkedIn indicating we are friends-this is a personal pet peeve of mine and frankly, it can be construed as some lazy networking.  Plus, this is a pretty sure fire way to get more denied connection requests or the dreaded report as spam or I don't know on LinkedIn.  LI won't cop to a number, but urban legend has it that if you get enough of these, you will be booted off the island. 

Now that I've gotten off my pet peeve soapbox, let's talk about the best way to make contact with a stranger through a professional networking site like LinkedIn.  I want you to be an effective networker, not a networker who takes the easiest but not best route to connect.  As a result, I'm recycling a blog post from April of 2010 to make the point of my rant, but I do hope it helps you network both effectively and professionally:

I opened my LI inbox this morning to find an invite from someone I do not know, and have never heard of.  This person sent me an invite with the basic LI message selecting the "friend" option.  Well, I don't know her from Eve, and without a personalized invite, I'm unlikely to accept it.  I'm going to guess that it was just a mistake on her part...but it begs the question. 

Do you know what you are doing when you send out those invites?  In case the answer is no, let's do a very quick run through:

Where do I invite someone to join my network?
This process is so easy.  You can either add connections in bulk using the Add Connections feature, or go the route of sending a personalized invite (which is what I strongly recommend) to people individually.  Simply search for them by name and once on their profile, you will see Add Name to your network:



Once you click Add to your network the system will take you to a secondary screen for input:



 
From here, you can select the appropriate option between colleague, classmate, done business together, friend, other, and the never recommended: I don't know Jack.  And I encourage you to put the emphasis on appropriate here.  It's too easy to be viewed as a spammer if you are sending out messages to people that you don't know, haven't talked to, or didn't work with-especially if you take the easy out of selecting friend as your "how do I know..".  When you have no shared connection, group, or history with the person, other is a perfectly acceptable option to select since you are seeking to create a symbiotic connection (and if you are seeking to spam, get off my blog immediately as my blog has a self destruct feature for spam artists).  The system will typically ask you for that person's email address (depending on whether they are in an open link network or not-most are not), which you should then enter.  Don't have email and don't feel like putting on your Inspector Gadget hat to find it?  Then send them an Inmail (LinkedIn's email service) letting them know that you would like to connect, why you want to connect, where you hope to add value to their professional lives, and asking them if they are open to it.  It's not the fastest way of adding connections to your network, but it's probably the most "offense free" way of doing it. 

And that's it's-once they accept your invite, you are off to the networking races.  But please-remember to add value with every connection-it makes a difference!  Good luck and happy hunting!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Job seekers: Get out!

Job seekers..you need to get out of your house.  Now!  Stop reading this blog, surfing the web, checking FB statuses (statusi?), trolling the job boards, etc.  If you are an experienced professional, statistics tell us that networking does and should play a major part in your job search.  However, it doesn't just mean online networking.  Unless you live in a remote area where your closest neighbor is 100 miles away, chances are you are missing an opportunity to be eyeball to eyeball with some folks who can help you.  Not sure where to look?  Check out:

www.meetup.com to find groups with similar backgrounds, interests, etc who are primarily looking to create in person meetings/events.

www.linkedin.com is not just to do online networking!  Check out the Events tab within the LI site to find geography specific events.

www.uschamber.com/chambers has a listing of local Chambers of Commerce and while these chambers vary in efficacy, it's a smart place to start.

www.workministry.com has a listing of local, faith-based job search networking groups by city/state.

www.job-hunt.org also has a broad listing of even more job search networking groups available..

Your local library, local place of worship, and/or local unemployment office will often have information on local events aimed at job seekers or business.

Bottom line is this.  In today's economy, smart seekers must take every opportunity to build relationships that could turn into job opportunities.  And sitting in front of that monitor all day just isn't going to get it done.  Now get out!

Photo credit: Niagra Detroit

Friday, July 8, 2011

Good luck and God bless Atlantis crew!


Today's blog is from the something a little different category.  Was in the middle of my WebEx session on Social Networking when Atlantis blasted off for her final mission in space.  Proud, melancholy, and wistful all describe my feelings.  I remember standing on my back porch in Florida watching the shuttle launches.  No matter how many times I saw it, my awe was never diminished.  I still find myself in disbelief that our country will no longer have a program to send humans into space. I know that space travel is not one of those expenditures that makes sense to everyone, but I still think it's valuable regardless of cost. 

And finally...I'm sad that my daughter who wants to be an astronaut will grow up in a country that no longer looks to the sky and wonders what could be.  What have we done?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Career Planning from Pastor Ann

Today's post was inspired by a sermon our Associate Pastor gave this week at my church talking about how to use your spiritual gifts in service to God and others.  While I'm mightily paraphrasing (forgive me Ann!), she talked about how it's important to know your gifts so that you can find the right "things" to do to fulfill our roles as Christians here on earth.  She talked about the difference between a spiritual gift and a talent, but she also talked about how people can be incorrect in assessing their own gifts meaning that while you might be helping others with your talents, you may not be tapping into your true gifts.  She talked about some ways to make sure that you identify our top gifts including doing a gift inventory/assessment at a site like:

http://www.kodachrome.org/spiritgift/

I think this is a pretty cool way to figure out how to take actions that help us be the body of Christ here on earth.  But I know that not everyone believes as we do.  However, I still think that there is a way to take these same concepts and apply to your work life whether you are a believer or not.  Think about it...as Americans, we typically ask kids who are 17 or 18 years old to decide on a life path with little more than a couple of seminars, talk from a guidance counselor, and maybe a few visits to Universities if they are lucky.  How on earth do we expect these children to figure out a life plan when most of them don't know if they want fries or onion rings with lunch tomorrow much less law or medicine as a career in 10 years?  And for those of us who should be old enough to know better, why do we insist on continuing to follow a career plan when all it does is bring us frustration, anger, and pain?  Do we have the courage to break out?  When the money is coming in, that answer is typically no.  But what about those people who are already unemployed?  Do we then have the courage to make a necessary change?  Not always.  But as I mentioned in my last blog, are you sure you can afford not to?  If you are in one of the career fields that is not predicted to come back, you need to ask yourself if you can afford to continue on the same career path.  If the jobs just aren't there anymore, is it doing you any good?  If you are one of those folks, I think that making a change becomes less of a dream and more of a necessity. 

Ok, so we get it.  But how do we figure out what we want to be when we grow up when we are in our 30's, 40's, 50's, and beyond?  With a little planning folks.  Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could afford to do some career planning with a certified career planning professional?  Sure...but let's face facts...the reality is that many job seekers simply don't have the money to do this.  However, there are a number of free/low costs websites where you can walk yourself through some assessments.  My personal favorite is the Department of Labor's Occupational Database a.k.a the O*Net.  This is a content rich site that is updated fairly frequently and should be on the top 5 list of anyone thinking of making a career/job move.  Once on the site, go to the My Next Move section and follow the instructions to take the assessments there.  From those results, the system will then make some suggestions of careers you could explore along with projected employment outlook within those industries/functions.  For most people that I work with, they find that more than the job titles, it's the pattern that emerges that is of interest.  Not sure what I mean?  Well, if you see a pattern of service to others in the suggested occupations, you might realize that sitting in a cubicle farm entering data all day isn't going to make your heart sing, etc.   But let's also be really honest.  Regardless of how interesting the results are, if you are someone who needs to find employment immediately-these results may seem a bit pie in the sky if they are suggesting that you make a big career change.  However, I'm going to encourage you to keep an open mind anyway and think about how you can apply the patterns to work environment, industry, boss, etc even if you retain the same function focus in order to find work quickly.  Just be open to the results and decide how big of a change you can handle.  Also, if you are a Christian like me, think about combining the results of your spiritual gifts inventory with the assessments on the O*Net to really figure out how you can harmoniously combine all of the aspects of your life. 

Bottom line is this.  Career planning isn't easy-especially when it entails a mid-career change.  It takes a little work, a lot of courage, a ton of persistence and the ability to keep an open mind...but you never know where it might take you in life.  Wouldn't it be nice to be happy again at work?  I hope you get there.  Good luck, happy hunting and God bless!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Are you unemployed...or unemployable?

I read an interesting article on The Tennessean's website this morning regarding how employers in Tennessee are facing a high number of both open jobs and unemployed people.  While it's easy to immediately bash these employers for not doing enough to hire older workers, the long time unemployed, and those looking to make a career change, the reality is that I don't think it's as simple as that.  I think that we need to take a step back and really look at situations like this to address what Erika Niedowski writes about in her article-the skills gap.

Ok, we get it...there's a skills gap.  Who cares, I still want/need a job.  If employers would be more open to taking on more job seekers, we would all have the money to fix this, right?  Uh, no.  I think if you are looking at months/years of unemployment, you might need to take a step back and ask yourself some tough questions before we play the blame game:

1) Is it me?  Are the skills I possess in my functional area up to date or out of date?  Do I need to retrain?  Do I need to gain professional certifications?  Do I need to train on new technologies, methodologies, etc?  If I have up to date skills, am I marketing them accurately to reach the right audience? 

2) Is it my town?  Do I live in a town with high unemployment and poor economic outlook?  If so, can I move?  Is relo an option?  If so, can I do it myself or does it need to be company sponsored?  If relo is out, am I looking at virtual opportunities or opening myself up to a longer commute to open up more jobs?

3) Is it my function?  Have I made my living in a career field that has eroded away?  Am I trying to find a job where jobs no longer exist?  Has outsourcing, automation, or evolution made my function obsolete?

4) Is it my industry?  Do I have up to date skills with a necessary function in an industry that is dying?  Can I change to a related industry?  Can I change to a totally different industry?  Will my industry ever come back?

5) Is it me, part 2?  Do you wonder why the answers to questions 1-4 are all positive, but yet you are still  unemployed.  Ask yourself: Do I project a bad attitude?  Am I letting my fears/worries/anxiety about unemployment color my behavior in networking/interviews/conversations?  Have I begun hiding in my house avoiding networking situations because I'm sick of dealing with the looks and questions?  Am I convinced that I'm doing everything right even when others tell me I'm not?  Am I doing the same things over and over expecting different results?  Is my depression dictating my actions?  Have I been going on countless interviews for the last year only to never be offered a job?  Am I holding onto a job search process that is both outdated and ineffective simply because it's all I know?  Is it possible that it's not the economy, discriminatory employers, my age or my function but rather ME that is keeping me unemployed?

If you feel like you walk out of this set of questions with more worries than answers, you are not alone.  The reality is that this recession isn't just about less jobs-it's about how our work environment has changed.  We all know the line about less jobs more competition.  However, this recession has been so much more complex than that.  Changing business climate, shrinking profits, increased outsourcing/offshoring, increasing technology/automation...all of these things have created the perfect storm for job seekers.  For individuals, it may mean that at 45, 50, 55, or 60+ they are facing a reality in which their jobs no longer exist.  It's hard to think about being ready to start a new career at an age when you thought you would be ready to start retirement. 

I gave a lot of thought to writing this post wondering if I would anger some people-namely those who have been unemployed for a long time.  I probably will, and you know what-I can live with that.  Why?  Because it's better to be angry than unemployed.  Good luck and happy hunting.